Psychology Chartered

#TheCircle- the new reality show for the age of social media!

Posted by Lexi Nye

12th October 2018

With a chance to win a fifty thousand pound cash prize, players moved into a new reality show The Circle!  Each player was placed into a separate apartment without seeing or hearing one another. The only way the players communicated was through a specially designed social media platform called, you’ve guessed it – The Circle.

A bit like big brother but with a twist, the players were fighting to be the most popular over the course of three weeks. On The Circle they could message each other, create group chats, post status and pictures of themselves.

By only communicating online, those spontaneous nonverbal behaviours that create a sort of natural impression of a person are missed and, of course, no one knows who each other really are! So the players can choose – do they be completely themselves? Or do they want to create a whole new identity online The Circle?

This new reality show gave an eerie look into how easy it is to ‘catfish’, aka, ‘to lure someone into a relationship by adopting a fictional online persona’. We watch with a mixture of apprehension and amusement as players fake who they are and gain popularity and trust in The Circle.

Every few days the players would rate each other anonymously. The most popular players became ‘influencers’ and the least liked players with the lowest ratings ran the chance of being blocked and removed from The Circle.

In this social media age our online presence can become a really big part of our social identity. The Circle opens our eyes to whether these online identities are in fact true representations of the people behind them, and to spread awareness of the level of trust we should have when interacting with someone new online.

The winner of The Circle, Alex (actually portraying his girlfriend of two years, Kate) states in his interview:

Are you trying to make a point about social media?

Mainly that it’s fake. I want to raise awareness of that. When I was younger I got catfished and fooled into thinking I was speaking to a girl on Tinder when it was actually a man. I even went to meet her. Or him. I thought it was a Canadian girl called Taylor and this older Aussie guy turned up, thinking he’d still be able to be my mate. He was very delusional.

How did your catfishing experience affect you?

It made me much more wary online, especially using dating apps. Luckily I haven’t had to use them since. That was before I made a career out of social media. Nowadays it’s even worse. I meet Instagram models and influencers and just think “You look nothing like your photos. You’ve got millions of followers. What do you do when you meet them in real life?” “

If anything else, this new series really highlights the perils of social media and these sadly do not only involve catfishing but can also apply to many other harmful misuses of social media such as grooming and identity fraud. A big take home message for this seemingly easy going series!